Poğaça: Cheese & Herb Turkish Pastry

Delicious savory bread rolls packed with crumbly white cheese and parsley. Perfect for tea time, breakfast time or any time of day.

If you visit a Turkish bakery, you would be hard pressed to not find Poğaça. They are an essential! Commonly enjoyed for breakfast or tea time, they are perfect to keep on hand especially for last minute guests.

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The dough is a simple yeast dough but with egg and yogurt, it makes the dough a bit more tender. While cheese and herb filling is one of the most common, olive filling and potato filling are also popular alternatives to try out.

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Here’s the recipe:

Poğaça

For the dough:

  • 1 1/3 c flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
  • 2 TBSP thick yogurt
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/3 c warm milk
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 1/2 c lor peynir (sub: feta cheese or ricotta cheese)
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T thick yogurt
  • salt (to taste)

For the topping:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 2 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and the warm milk until combined.

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Then add the whole egg, olive oil and yogurt and continue to stir well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and the salt.

Then constantly stirring, add the flour mixture to the dough and keep stirring until it comes together.

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead it well for five minutes.

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Then using the remaining 1/2 T of olive oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, flipping it to make sure that both sides are covered lightly with the oil. Then cover with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After one hour, divide the dough into ten small balls and cover again with the kitchen towel as you prepare the filling.

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To make the filling: Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Season with salt (to taste).

To assemble the Poğaça: Take a dough ball and flatten with your finger tips. Then take it and stretch it like a pizza dough until it is about four inches in diameter.

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Then take 1.5 tsp of the filling and place it in a line close to the right side of the circle.

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Fold over one side to the other to create a semi-circle. Then crimp the edges with your finger tips.

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Dip your fingers in some olive oil and gently coat the bottom of each of the Poğaça and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Continue until all of the Poğaça are done.

For the topping: Whisk together the egg yolk with the milk and using a pastry brush, brush each of the Poğaça with the egg wash. Then sprinkle over the sesame seeds.

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Bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Serve & Enjoy! They taste so good when they are warm!

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

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Turkish Egg Salad (Yumurta Piyazi)

A light, healthy, Mediterranean twist on a classic egg salad recipe!

When I studied Turkish cooking, I learned nearly two hundred different dishes. This one, although it is so simple, is one of my favorites. Perhaps it is because of its simplicity or perhaps it is because I enjoy eating eggs. Regardless, it is a simple, classic favorite of mine. Here’s my version of this beautiful, Turkish recipe.

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Turkish Egg Salad (Yumurta Piyazi)

  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 scallions (finely sliced)
  • salt (to taste)
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (pull biber)

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Preparation:

Cut the hardboiled eggs into quarters (lengthwise) and place on a plate.

Drizzle the olive oil on top of the eggs.

Sprinkle over the parsley and scallions.

Then season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Serve and Enjoy immediately or pop it in the fridge to enjoy later!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

Tender fresh grape leaves stuffed with a flavorful vegetarian filling.

I will never forget the first time I tried stuff grape leaves. I cannot remember exactly how old I was but I was a small child. It was a new taste for me. The leave reminded me of an undercooked collard green but I thought the filling was quite tasty.

Flash forward a couple of decades and I would say I’ve eaten my fair share of stuffed grape leaves in many different countries, prepared a myriad of different ways. Although they do require some time to actually roll and stuff the leaves, they are well worth the effort. I love that they can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature so there’s no need to fuss with this aspect. 

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Traditionally, they are prepared with meat, but I don’t miss the meat when I prepare them without it. I created this recipe because I did not have meat on hand and I used bulgur instead of rice simply because I really love bulgur. 

I think that everyone that has ever eaten a stuffed grape leaves, knows them immediately when they see them. And if they are like me, then seeing them will surely bring a smile to their face.

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Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

  • 20-30 fresh grape leaves
  • 1/2 c dry fine bulgur
  • 1 small onion (finely diced; about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To blanche the grape leaves: Clean the grape leaves thoroughly. Then prepare a large pot of boiling water. Working in batches, blanche the grape leaves for about 30-60 seconds. Then remove from the water and place into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the grape leaves and set aside.

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To prepare the filling: Prepare the bulgur by placing it in a bowl and adding one cup of boiling water. Stir and then cover with plastic wrap or a plate to allow it to steam for 10 minutes. 

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Then add the tomato paste and stir well, adding a little water as needed. 

Then mix the bulgur and the tomato paste mixture in a large bowl. Season with the oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh parsley just until it is incorporated.

In a large stock pot, line the bottom with about 4-5 grape leaves (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan).

To roll the grape leaves: One by one, place them on a flat surface. Starting at the wide bottom part of the grape leaf, place about half a tablespoon of the filling on the leaf and spread out into a thin line. Fold in the sides of the leaf and gently roll it until it is completely rolled. Continue until all of the grape leaves are rolled.

Place each of the stuffed grape leaves seam side down in the pot, side by side, very close together. Top with the lemon slices and enough water to fill the pot half way up (but do not submerge the grape leaves. Place a heavy ceramic plate of bowl on top of the grape leaves and cover with a lid. Allow the grape leaves to cook for about 45 minutes, adding more water as needed. 

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Once cooked, gently remove from the pot.

Serve and Enjoy with a lemon slice.

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Afiyet Olsun!

 ©All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: EE Winkler

Bazlama: Turkish Yeast Flatbread (Light, Fluffy & Simply Delicious)

A fluffy & light yeast-based Turkish flatbread, Bazlama is a classic and simple bread. Cooked until puffy and thick and coated with a little butter or olive oil, it is so delicious and perfectly compliments any meal.

Bazlama is a combination between a flat bread and a traditional bread similar in texture to Naan. It is thick and fluffy, making it perfect to serve with meals with sauces or gravy because it can soak up the excess liquid.

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With minimal prep work, the dough can be prepared ahead of time and then the Bazlama can be prepared just before you are ready to eat.

Here’s the recipe:

Bazlama (Turkish Yeast Flatbread)

  • 1 c flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil +more for brushing the bread after cooking (if desired)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, warm water and 1 TBSP of olive oil.

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Then add the flour and the salt and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Then transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

With the remaining half a tablespoon of olive oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel, place it in a warm place and allow it to rise for one hour.

After the dough has risen, knead it gently again for one minute. Then shape into a ball and cut into two equal pieces.

Roll out each piece to make a large circle (like making pizza dough).

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Place the rolled out circles on a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour and cover again with the damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an additional 30 minutes.

To cook the bazlama: Place each piece one at a time on a crepe pan or large frying pan. Allow the bazlama to cook on both sides (about 3 minutes each side on medium high heat). Note: The dough will start to puff up a lot and this is a very good sign. When it starts to lightly brown, it is ready to be flipped.

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To serve, brush with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with salt (if desired).

Break bread and enjoy with your loved ones!

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Afiyet Olsun!